Gyms will close across England under the new lockdown measures after Boris Johnson won the vote in the Commons for a national lockdown to come into place. The severe new restrictions come into effect today and will last until December 2nd.
In a press conference from Downing Street, Boris Johnson laid out the strict new nationwide measures, which includes the closure of all gyms around the country. There are only exemptions for elite sports people training and for leisure centres where children are exercising as part of their curriculum where it is part of their normal provisions.
The government hope these new restrictions, including the closure of gyms, non-essential shops, pubs, restaurants and bars, will control the rising levels of the virus around the UK.
This announcement came on the same day the UK surpassed 1 million lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus.
Once the national lockdown eases on December 2nd, the country will adopt an exit strategy, and will continue to follow the restrictions from the existing tier system, depending on the severity of infection in the local area. The three-tier, or ‘traffic light’ system saw different parts of the country placed in different categories dependent on rates of infection, with areas in the highest level expected to face the toughest restrictions.
Therefore, gyms will only reopen under the rules of the previous tier system, with some gyms only opening under the approval of the local authority.
Cabinet Minister Michael Gove told Sky News on 1 November that the Government would review the data over the month but, when asked if the national lockdown could be extended he replied: “Yes.”
What will gyms look like when they reopen?
If the tier system resumes in early December, it is expected that gyms will follow the same strict regulations as before the lockdown. This included the debate of whether gym goers need to wear a mask.
Even prior to the second lockdown, face coverings were mandatory on public transport and indoor environments such as shops, but what did this mean for exercise?
The science around face coverings is divisive at the best of times, but it seems when it comes to exercise, the etiquette is even more blurred. In the US, it’s been reported that some people are being shouted at while exercising for not wearing a mask. 73-year-old Jane Rosen told The New York Times that she screams “where is your mask?” to people exercising nearby.
Meanwhile, Adidas and the gym company Rebel had both launched their own ranges of face masks designed to adapt to the face for comfort during physical activity.
In a similar way to before the November lockdown, gyms are likely to ban groups of six people visiting together. Mr Johnson declared that: “Covid secure venues like gyms can still hold more than six in total”.
“Within those venues, however, there must not be individual groups larger than six, and groups must not mix socially or form larger groups.” On the reopening on gyms, changing rooms are still to be avoided and people will be encouraged to change at home.
Post lockdown, it is expected that gyms across the country will enforce the following rules:
- Limiting the number of people using the facility at any one time, for example by using a timed booking system;
- Reducing class sizes and allowing sufficient time between each class to avoid groups waiting outside during changeover;
- Spacing out equipment or taking some out of service to maintain social distancing;
- Enhanced cleaning and providing hand sanitizer throughout venues;
- Considering how the way people walk through their venue could be adjusted to reduce contact, with queue management or one-way systems;
- Ensuring adequate ventilation;
- Encouraging the use of outdoor spaces for individual, team or group activities, making sure to comply with the latest restrictions on public gatherings;
- Exercise or dance studios should have temporary floor markings where possible to help people stay distanced during classes;
- Customers and staff should be encouraged to shower and change at home wherever possible, although changing rooms will be available.